Understanding the Youth’s role in the fight against insurgency

I'm personally aghast with the statement of the NYC Chairman on this long-standing issue of insurgency in the country.

The National Youth Commission (NYC) has called on officials of the Sangguniang Kabataan to join the government's fight against leftist insurgency. Ronald Cardema, Chairman of the NYC, also claims that youth groups should re-direct their energies and attention towards staging protests against armed rebels, instead of consuming their time criticizing the government. 

I'm personally aghast with the statement of the NYC Chairman on this long-standing issue of insurgency in the country. It speaks of his lack of appreciation and understanding of the cultural, historical and geographical aspects of communist insurgency. As a collegial body, sadly, no one from the commission advised him to refrain from issuing a statement devoid of a clear picture on the insurgency issue. Hence, the whole NYC is under fire as a result of his statements.

Allow me to clarify some of the points raised by the NYC Chairman in his statements.

Firstly, are SK officials sufficiently equipped and/or trained to join the crusade against insurgency? Least he knows, armed conflict in the Philippines has lasted for more than 40 years and killed thousands of combatants and civilians. Our police and military forces have tried and failed in their mission to totally eradicate insurgency. How does the presence of SK officials put added value in the fight against armed conflict? Without defining their role in this fight, we are risking these SK officials' future and lives.

Secondly, mass demonstrations have been staged by youth groups in the past to support peace-building efforts, especially in areas where there is armed conflict. There are a lot of active civic groups and student organizations that have actively expressed their condemnation of armed solutions. In fact, these groups have incessantly called on opposing parties from the government and rebel groups to discuss their respective issues through peace talks and dialogues. 

I hope I'm wrong but there seems to be an expectation for the youth to physically take part in the fight against insurgency, especially that the NYC Chairman has previously egged on SK officials to help the PNP and AFP in their anti-insurgency campaign. If I’m not wrong, however, the call for the youth to take up arms only cultivates the existing culture of violence in many conflict and war-torn areas in the country.

The PNP and AFP are the government institutions mandated to undertake measures to suppress any and all forms of lawless violence, including insurgency, and prevent the spread and escalation of such elsewhere in the country. 

If there's any role for the youth sector to play in this issue of insurgency, it is to encourage and participate in government programs, policies and projects which ensures that: (1) no child/young person is trapped in the middle of armed conflict and; (2) every child/young person is enrolled, trained and schooled to be a responsible citizen of this country, and not become a future rebel.

About the Author
Mr. Aaron Benedict De Leon is currently a Business Development Practitioner in a private consulting firm. He has more than six years of professional experience in leading and managing political and non-government organizations, specializing in organizational management, policy development and program management. He has had stints with notable political/socio-civic organizations, serving in various capacities as: Secretary-General of the Centrist Democratic Party of the Philippines (CDP) [2013-2015], Founding Chairperson of the Centrist Democratic Youth Association of the Philippines (CDYAP) [2012-2014], Philippine Representative to the International Young Democrat Union (IYDU) [2011-2012], Chairperson of the Christian Democratic Youth [2011-2012], Secretary-General of YOUTH Philippines [2010-2011], and Spokesperson/Communications Director of the GT2010 Gilbert Teodoro Presidential Campaign [2009-2010].
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